To forgive

Published Wednesday, 02 May 2012
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I love stories. They are so much part of everyday life. But then every so often there is a story that just makes you stop... This is one of them.

She was a young Austrian Jew sent to Northern Ireland by her parents to escape the hell of the Holocaust...

But for Gertrude Warmington a new life could never equal a brand new start...

How could a young girl ever find release from the hideous reality that her dad just disappeared one day? How could a teenager live with the fact that it was to the gas chambers he'd disappeared?

But this young woman was to allow her life to become one of the most incredible stories of hope I think I've ever heard...

Twenty years later - while on holiday in County Clare - Gertrude met a German couple. It sounds like such an ordinary encounter - but she allowed it to be an extraordinary one.

Fritz had been a Nazi soldier in Hitler's regime. No-one knows his exact role in his army unit - but there seems no doubt he would have helped forced Gertrude's people towards the concentration camps... He was the enemy.

But Fritz and Gertrude were to become life-long friends.

To listen, to forgive, to befriend him must have been some of the most painful choices of her life.

But she never looked back - and in making those decisions she seemed to find her own release from the Holocaust.

Her nightmares didn't vanish - but somehow she seemed to transcend them.

Gertrude's son Charlie shared her incredible story at a recent event held in Belfast's Black Box.

The story-telling gig was organised by Tell It In Colour - a project close to my heart - which aims to find and share some of the hopeful stories going on in communities here.

I guess working in news you get used to the fact that the world can sometimes be a pretty dismal place - and then stories like Gertrude's come along - and remind you that, actually, there is always hope.

© UTV News
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Judith Hill
Judith Hill

Judith has worked for UTV since 2008.

After studying a postgrad in newspaper journalism with the University of Ulster she worked in local radio, including the Q Radio Group, for three years.

She is passionate about news & communication, loves to travel (when feasible!), enjoys story-writing, going to gigs & spending time with friends & family.

One of her favourite quotes comes from Donald Miller: "Life cannot be understood flat on a page. It has to be lived. We get one story, you and I, and one story alone."

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